In response, Murray said there was no other legislation to accomplish that. She added that if the bill did not pass, the Pentagon "would take another $20 billion hit" from across-the-board cuts early next year, with some personnel furloughed as a result.
She made one concession, telling Georgians Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss she would work to exclude disabled veterans from the change contained in the legislation.
The longer-term political fallout was harder to calculate.
Tea party organizations lined up to oppose the legislation, arguing that it will raise spending. Deficits are projected to rise slightly for three years because of the bill. Three potential GOP presidential contenders, Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, opposed the bill.
So, too, did the Republican Party's top leaders, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John Cornyn of Texas, and several members of the rank and file who face primary challenges from the right next year.
Even so, the leadership's opposition did not extend to an effort to derail the bill, which advanced over a critical procedural obstacle on Tuesday with the support of a dozen Republican senators. On the final vote Wednesday, all 53 Democrats, two independents and nine Republican voted for the bill. Defeating the measure would have required a fresh round of negotiations with the House, with no guarantee that a partial shutdown could be avoided when current government funding expires on Jan. 15.
Passage of the measure will permit the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to draft a massive, trillion-dollar-plus omnibus measure to run the government through the end of September 2014. Lawmakers are expected to use the opportunity to assert their own priorities rather than defer as frequently to the administration, a tactic that is less possible when short-term bills must be passed with a shutdown looming.
The canceled across-the-board reductions put spending on general government programs at $1.012 trillion for the 12 annual appropriations bills for the budget year that began Oct. 1 and a nearly identical $1.014 for the next.
Agency budgets totaled $986 billion in 2013 after automatic cuts called sequestration were imposed, causing numerous furloughs, harming military readiness and cutting grants to local school districts, health researchers and providers of Head Start preschool care to low-income children, among numerous effects. The next round of automatic cuts would have sent spending down to $967 billion.
The cuts themselves were triggered after lawmakers failed to agree two years ago on a far more sweeping series of deficit reductions.